View Full Version : Canadian court tackling polygamy question

02-14-2011, 06:00 PM
By lindsay whitehurst
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published: January 31, 2011 10:46AM
Updated: January 31, 2011 10:04AM

A Canadian judge is now considering a landmark challenge to his country’s ban on polygamy as unconstitutional — a case being closely watched in Utah.

Testimony ended last week in the proceeding, sparked by the Canadian branch of a polygamous sect based in Utah. Since late November, British Columbia Chief Justice Robert Bauman has heard from nearly 20 witnesses — some of them Utahns — and taken many more affidavits and video testimonies about plural marriage.

The justice is expected to issue a ruling later this year on whether an anti-polygamy law dating to 1892 violates Canada’s guarantee of freedom of religion. The Utah Attorney General’s Office will be watching that ruling, said spokesman Paul Murphy.

“I think it will inform us,” he said. “Canada is tackling the same issues we have, in that we have this law but for the most part it hasn’t been enforced by any law enforcement agency.”

Utah’s bigamy law makes it a felony to marry or co-habitate with more than one husband or wife, though Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has focused on investigating crimes within polygamous groups rather than the practice itself.

Polygamists have also been observing the “historic” proceedings, said Marlyne Hammon, a member of the action committee for the polygamous community of Centennial Park, located just south of the Utah state line in Arizona.

“If Canada were to drop that law, it would send quite an important message out to the world,” she said. “They can see [polygamy] is not what everyone says. It’s about people.”

The case began in 2009 when the attorney general of British Columbia filed charges against James Oler and Winston Blackmore, two leaders of separate factions in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints settlement known as Bountiful. Authorities had been investigating polygamy at Bountiful since at least 1990, but had feared running afoul of the country’s religious freedom laws. Fundamentalist Mormons believe in polygamy as a religious principle.

In 2007, then-Attorney General Wally Oppal appointed the first of three different special prosecutors to review the case; two years later, charges were filed. When a court threw them out on religious freedom grounds, the new attorney general asked the Supreme Court to investigate whether the polygamy law is constitutional.

On Nov. 22, the chief justice started a proceeding called a constitutional reference question. The first part of the inquiry focused primarily on expert testimony.

One professor said that plural marriage violates international human rights laws and another linked it to increases in social ills, such as crime and discrimination against women, according to the Globe and Mail of Toronto and The Province of Vancouver. But lawyers arguing against the law pointed to a Cornell legal study concluding that, even though polygamy laws are seldom enforced, they keep people in those communities from reporting abuse to authorities, the Vancouver Sun reported.

One of Utah’s most high-profile former polygamists espoused a similar point of view. Carolyn Jessop wrote a best-selling book chronicling the intimidation and abuse she and her children suffered in the FLDS culture, but nevertheless testified in Canada that polygamy should be decriminalized.

“What’s happening is children are being born into this, but we don’t have the same rights, we don’t have any protections,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Jessop as saying. “It’s not being prosecuted, but it’s not being regulated, either. My theory is decriminalizing the crime would be giving people some rights, so we have claim to property, we have claim to help.”

Other Utah voices included Mary Batchelor, of the pro-polygamy advocacy group Principal Voices, and her co-founder Anne Wilde, whose podcast was played during the proceedings.

Several women from the FLDS and other polygamous groups have testified, many anonymously, to their personal experiences. While one told stories of loving her large, close plural family, another reported feeling isolated and helpless, Canadian newspapers reported.

After testimony ends, lawyers on both sides will prepare their closing arguments, which will begin in late March. Though Bauman’s eventual ruling will likely be appealed, the outcome is poised to influence decisions about whether to prosecute polygamists in both British Columbia and the rest of the country, a law officer with the British Columbia Supreme Court said.

Even if the law is struck down, Hammon said she doesn’t foresee a rush of plural families from the U.S. moving to Canada. A total of about 38,000 polygamists live in Utah, many as part of about four major groups.

“The people here in this state, we’ve established ourselves in our homes,” Hammon said. “We want to continue on fighting for our civil rights.”

The decision will not likely have much direct effect on U.S. policy toward plural marriage, said University of Utah law professor Wayne McCormack.

“The U.S. has its own particular history with polygamy,” he said.

A pair of Supreme Court rulings that found religious freedom does not empower breaking the law have cooled interest in the polygamy question going before the justices, he said. Unless, that is, the Supreme Court takes up the issue of same-sex marriage.

“That would resuscitate the interest in polygamy,” McCormack said. “The U.S. courts are not going to be interested in polygamy until they have first dealt with same-sex marriage.”


© 2011 The Salt Lake Tribune
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Hmmmm... When I stated that poligamists would use religious freedom as a wedge to attack anti-polygamy laws, Wilbur said that I was being hysterical... ;)

02-14-2011, 06:00 PM
And, here is American Thinker's article on the subject, which is a superb analysis:

February 14, 2011
The Polygamists Make Their Move

By Peter Heck
The debate over whether or not those practicing homosexuality should be eligible to obtain the legal status of "married" for their same-sex relationships is persistently mischaracterized by activists on both sides as an attempt to redefine marriage. For those opposing such a move, this is most likely an error of ignorance, while for those favoring, it likely is an intentional tactic of misdirection. To be clear, in order to "redefine" anything, there must be an alternative definition being advocated. To this point, no such proposed substitute has emerged.

In truth then, what is being pursued is not any redefinition of marriage, but rather the "undefinition" of it -- an attempt to obliterate any fundamental parameters for what is to be perceived as moral and immoral sexual partnerships. To anyone paying attention over the last several decades, this effort should come as no surprise.

The debate over homosexuality in our culture, after all, is nothing more than the current manifestation of a much larger crusade for sexual anarchy that has been raging since Alfred Kinsey's fraudulent sex studies of the 1950s. Engaging in nothing short of institutional pedophilia and sexual abuse of children as young as Kindergarten, Kinsey's "research" contended that average Americans commonly were engaging in all sorts of sexual activity. He and his acolytes urged the culture to act on his revelations by shedding their fears and shames about such behavior and embracing all forms of sexual activity as acceptable expression.

The Kinsey cause morphed into the free love movement of the 1960s with its focus on breaking down societal barriers against almost any sexual expression. And ever since, we have experienced a relentless campaign from these forces of sexual anarchy to normalize previously forbidden recreational sex. When Kinsey started the fire, most resisted the idea that sex should be entertainment, until pop culture normalized it. Even then, most resisted the idea that divorce should be easily attainable, until pop culture normalized it. Even then, most resisted the idea that promiscuity should be celebrated, until pop culture normalized it. Even then, most resisted the idea that homosexuality and cross-dressing should be accepted, and now pop culture is normalizing it.

If my assessment is accurate, we should be seeing the next stage in the crusade for sexual anarchy beginning to take shape. And right on cue, a news story emerges from the Salt Lake Tribune to validate as much.

As columnist Lindsay Whitehurst explains, the nearly 38,000 polygamists in Utah are closely following a case in Canada where a court is now weighing a decision that could upend the country's ban on polygamy. What is astounding about the story is how frighteningly similar the polygamists' arguments are to those we are currently hearing from the homosexual and transgendered crowd in America.

Calling the proceedings "historic," polygamy advocate Marlyne Hammon proclaimed, "If Canada were to drop that law, it would send quite an important message out to the world. They can see [polygamy] is not what everyone says. It's about people." Hammon added that the decriminalization of plural marriage in Canada would be a huge motivation to those fighting for its legalization in America. "We've established ourselves in our homes," she said. "We want to continue fighting for our civil rights."

Utah's Attorney General's office spokesman Paul Murphy has said of the case, "I think it will inform us. Canada is tackling the same issues we have, in that we have this law but for the most part it hasn't been enforced by any law enforcement agency."

Notice the similarity in language and sentiment being utilized: civil rights, anti-discrimination, self-fulfillment, personal happiness, don't judge, constitutional rights, personal expression. The very catch phrases currently employed by the sexual anarchists to achieve the acceptance of homosexual behavior are already being used to advocate for the next rung in their ladder. It should come as no surprise then that Tom Hanks, a vocal proponent of gay marriage, is currently the executive producer for the HBO series "Big Love," portraying (and normalizing) a fictional polygamous family in Utah.

Once the trail has been forged by homosexuality activists, polygamy is nothing but the next logical step. Paul McCormack, a law professor at the University of Utah, confirms that if the Supreme Court takes up the question of same-sex marriage, it will open the door to other forms of personal sexual preference. "That would resuscitate the interest in polygamy," he stated.

In light of all this, I simply ask those who support the legalization of "gay marriage" how they plan to deny marriage rights to those who advocate for polygamy? This has now gone beyond a "slippery slope" hypothetical question and has entered the realm of reality. The question deserves an answer, and any sane culture would demand one before proceeding further down the Kinsey path.

If we remove the current moral guideposts defining marriage as the God-intended union of a man and woman, declaring them to be a violation of the civil rights of those who want to engage in homosexuality, how do we reposition those posts to reject the civil rights claims of polygamists?

If we accept the arguments espoused by pop culture homosexual activists like Ellen DeGeneres who plead, "People are gonna be who they're gonna be, and we need to learn to love them for who they are and let them love who they want to love," how do we rebuff polygamy activists like Marlyne Hammon who say the same?

The answer is we don't. That is the consequence of "undefining" marriage -- it becomes a meaningless term, once for all vanquished by the forces of sexual anarchy. This necessarily opens the floodgates to the legalization of every form of sexual activity, from polygamy to incest to bestiality. Before we uproot our culture's moral barriers, we might want to pause long enough to consider what awaits us on the other side.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email peter@peterheck.com or visit www.peterheck.com.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/the_polygami

02-14-2011, 06:14 PM
polygamy is much more prevalent in history than homosexuality....but what man in his right mind wants to deal with 2+ wifes at the same time when they are all on their period....OMFG that's just insane

02-14-2011, 06:16 PM
polygamy is much more prevalent in history than homosexuality....but what man in his right mind wants to deal with 2+ wifes at the same time when they are all on their period....OMFG that's just insane

Good point but from what Iv'e noticed about Nova he is always on a period!

02-14-2011, 07:26 PM
polygamy is much more prevalent in history than homosexuality....It is?

02-14-2011, 07:34 PM
In light of all this, I simply ask those who support the legalization of "gay marriage" how they plan to deny marriage rights to those who advocate for polygamy? If you apply the same catch phrases that the gay marriage crowd employs then they can't.

Do we have any gay marriage activists on CU? Or anyone that would like to play devils advocate? I'd like to hear how you can't support polygamy, incest, beastiality, etc...

02-14-2011, 07:38 PM
It is?

yeah, most nomadic cultures and kings had many wifes...it was very common and not looked down upon at all even amongst the Romans.